A thoughtful blog on the difficulties our youngsters face.
Our minds, and particularly those of our children, have not yet adapted to the ever-increasing desire for extreme exposure in the media. Everything has to be more ‘more’ than whatever came before it, otherwise it is apparently without value. We are bombarded with a continuous flow of unfiltered information which can have a dramatic effect on our lives, as witnessed by the author’s entry.
Another concern which comes to mind with the media and social media is what is their level of responsibility for putting such concepts as self-harm into children’s heads in the first place? If at risk children are being exposed to these, then even with the continuous presence of a parent supervising their experiences, they will eventually begin to soak up the activity as a possible means to express or experience their frustrations, fears, depression, etc. rather than seeking out the help which is needed to overcome such a challenge.

Parenting And Stuff

alicia and grace

It was an evening last week when I learned that my Tween, a very sensitive and empathic girl, is chatting with a friend who is, at the same time over the phone with another friend escorting the local police searching for another (fourth) friend suspected of trying to commit suicide, per her FB.

In case you’ve lost me, this is the situation: My kid is sitting on her bed trembling and crying, while I am staring at her I-pad unbelievably, chat lines running extremely fast saying:  “Diane is not at the living room… wait, looking for her at the kitchen…not there! Perhaps she already did it! Wait, the police is entering the bathroom… Here she is! She is alive! She tried to kill herself!” Etc.

Once I was sure that Diane (which my daughter is not familiar with) is ok, and that her parents are aware of what’s happening in…

View original post 266 more words

Well done, Rebecca Marino!

I heard a deeply touching interview earlier today on CBC Radio’s Q with Rebecca Marino.

It is such a shame that some elements of any society rely on denigrating others so that they may themselves find some measure of feeling. I am uncertain what that feeling is, whether it be a twisted joy, sense of self worth, or simply some manner of stimulation of the nervous system that convinces them they remain alive.

I do not follow sports, and I knew nothing of Ms. Marino until today. However, it is deeply saddening to hear that someone with such potential and talent can become the target of petty-minded individuals. What this says of the vulnerability of those who remain unnoticed in the eyes of society is telling. There are many who are vulnerable who would probably have the potential to achieve great things who are otherwise held back by the vile acts of those who cannot find enough value in their essence that they need to demolish someone else’s.

I am glad she has taken the steps to share her situation with all of us. To have done so took tremendous courage. This clearly indicates that she is made of better stuff than any of those who sought to demean her. That she wishes to act as a spokesperson in the fight against depression is yet another indication that she is a wonderful person who will be an inspiration to countless for years to come.

I wish her all the best, and congratulate her in her effort to make this world a better place.

Technology enabling a brave new world

As you’ll recall, the in-laws are traveling half way around the world. We’ve been using iPads and Facetime to stay in touch. Nothing special there.

What is special is how my toddler has adapted to the concept and is now gleefully interacting with his grandparents on this slate of metal and glass, separated by thousands of kilometers, yet linked by electrons. He somehow makes the difference between the full interactivity offered by this service and that of regular television. He clearly does not believe that these are pre-recorded messages. His young mind has adapted to this unbelievable technology and has already begun making effective use of it.

I can barely comprehend the progression of technology since my grandfather was born a little over 99 years ago. When he was my son’s age, he had no electricity, used horses to get around, and aircraft were in their primitive infancy. Five scant decades later, we were walking on the Moon. He even learned how to use the internet and send email. When he passed away this summer, I could hold a computer in the palm of my hand which would have been inconceivably powerful to the scientists plumbing the leading edge of science and technology when he was my age. It would have been considered pure magic.

As I watch my son smile and blow kisses to his grandparents half a world away, I cannot begin to imagine what technology will be like by the time he reaches his great grandfather’s age. It will no doubt be magical, and if engineers, designers, programmers, and the host of highly-talented people who lend their hand to moving the world forward do their jobs right, my toddler-as-an-old-man will continue to assimilate and use that technology as seamlessly as he is now.

If only we could resolve that niggling issue of climate change to ensure that everyone is still happy and healthy enough to enjoy it by then.

On teaching science to toddlers

The bathtub is a wonderful place for learning. My kid has learned about hygiene, the aesthetics of bubbles, boats, and racing cars round and round the tub while making the most noise possible.

Tonight, I tried a new tack. Science. We discussed the phases of matter and the concept of air pressure by trapping air under a small dish with a couple holes in it and letting the air slip away as small or large bubbles. I explained that we were conducting basic experimentation to better understand the behaviour of gases in fluids. This fascinated him to no end. I suspect that he was more interested in the splashing and plopping noise emitted as the bubbles broke the surface of the water, than he was by my eventual diatribe on the compressibility of gases. Nonetheless, I pursued my pontificating right until the moment when a beautiful vortex became as we drained the bath. I eagerly pointed the phenomenon out, hoping he  would be as excited as I was. He then proceeded to scream in horror and scramble madly out of the tub.

Apparently, the main concept he retained was that this was somehow some critter snaking its way at him through the drain, or that he was going to get sucked down into the sewer along with the rest of the bath’s watery contents. In my defense, I never alluded to either of these possibilities, so please don’t toss rotten tomatoes my way.

I will have to revise my plan to elicit his interest in science, but thankfully I still have time. There’s always tomorrow’s bath.

On being a good partner

A good partner, regardless of gender and orientation is many things. Sometimes only one at a time. Often many, or all at the same time.

A good partner is a friend first and foremost.
A good partner is a confidant who listens, not hears.
A good partner is a social worker, even when his life needs a little work itself.
A good partner is a guidance counselor. A gentle nudge may be all it takes to explore new horizons.A good partner is a cook, no matter how little talented.
A good partner is a guardian and caretaker without wrapping everything in bubblewrap.
A good partner is a motivational speaker, shining rays of hope through grim clouds.
A good partner is a comedian even if the jokes are rotten.
A good partner is a (insert your comment below and I will expand the list.)

This list will undoubtedly grow as I continue to learn and grow along with it.

Writing At The Speed Of 88 MPH (Or Less…) (Re-Press from L. Palmer)

Writing At The Speed Of 88 MPH (Or Less…).

What a wonderful article. It is essential to find the time to write. Few authors have the luxury to fully commit themselves to their art, as life interrupts so frequently. It is a testimony to their character to be able to juggle the constant demands on their attention.

Thanks for sharing the inspiration!

Mobile technology will lead to an increase of Spaceballs moments – Mel Brooks got it right

If you were around in the 80’s, there’s a good chance that you remember Spaceballs and the infamous videophone in the toilet: Spaceballs urinal

With the advent of high technology, we are at risk of making such moments a routine part of life. Just last night, the in-laws called in on Facetime from the other side of the world to say high to their beloved grandchild. At the time, my mobile device was on the bathroom sink playing music while yours truly was washing said grandchild who was buried chest deep in frothy bubbles. Without thinking too much about it, I answered the call and swiveled the screen around so that the key communicators could exchange warm greetings across the digital void that separated us. Despite my young one’s early age, there appears to be an emerging awareness of the concept of modesty, and a wild dive deeper into the bathtub and a mad rush to gather more bubbles around quickly ensued.

No harm, no foul. Sensitive bits were not displayed in permanent 1s and 0s across the internet for embarrassing re-use during college graduation in a couple decades. However, it does bring up the thought that a best practice that in the future, while operating within a bathroom, it would be wisest to switch on Airplane mode. Or maybe it should be called “Bathroom mode.”

I can finally make my own awesome background work music (sort of!)

I can finally make my own awesome background work music (sort of!)

Many thanks to my brother. He is incredibly talented at finding random and new bits of information scattered in the internet’s many obscure nooks and crannies. He uncovered the link above a couple days ago, and I’ve only managed to get around to experiment with it this evening.

With a few short clicks, the system appears to generate sophisticated procedural music. Moving orbs around and switching up some of the settings creates entirely new tunes. Set something up, and let it run in the background while you work. I’ve found it refreshing and useful in generating new ideas now that some of my normal work tunes have been well broken-in.

The rest of the website appears to be dedicated to the hybridization of art and technology. Well worth a few minutes for your perusal. There are a few other gems, such as this noise reacting sphere ( http://blog.soulwire.co.uk/laboratory/cinder/noise-reactive-particle-sphere ) that you can find in short order.

Have fun!

Twisted translations and product sales: does one impact the other?

I know manufacturers are cash-strapped and feeling the crunch in these hard fiscal times. If I were in such a situation, I would be looking for every opportunity to find efficiencies and cut operating expenditures as well. One unlikely place seems to be in paying translators to migrate product blurbs from one language to another.

In Quebec, products are required to sport their information in both French and English. Some companies demonstrate substantial attention to detail in either language, ensuring that the product description, ingredient list, titles, subtitles, etc. are painstakingly accurate in either language. Far too many companies, however, appear to scramble for the easy button, particularly when translating from English to French. An apparently prolific use of either their nephew’s-best-friend’s-uncle’s-daughter-who-is-in-third-grade-taking-a-language-class-and-can-translate-this-for-nothing or Google translate creates a tide of poorly-translated, often humorous, sometimes incomprehensible information on product labels. I suspect it most likely is the latter as companies can access the service for free from anywhere, anytime, and it is fast. They also appear not to care much about double-checking the translation. I have also seen this in action in other provinces and countries.

What fascinates me about this phenomenon more than the laziness at play, or the uncontrollable fits of laughter that inevitably come from trying to figure out the gibberish that is proudly displayed on a self-serious product for which some marketing guru was undoubtedly paid good money in getting the product to market, is the question of whether such poor labeling affects sales in any way. If it did, I would have to believe that the products would be examined, and corrections made to ensure that they appeal to their market.

That this does not happen, or happens infrequently, suggests that consumers aren’t voting with their dollars, they don’t spend any time looking at labels, or that they don’t know better. Each possibility contains fascinating nuggets for debate in a society where we are supposedly short on money, believe that marketing sells, and that the education system is under continual strain to deliver more for less while being unappreciated.